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Gifts to Educational Institutions Said To Total $12 Billion in 1990-91

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Educational institutions received about $12 billion in donations during the 1990-91 school year, the Council for Aid to Education reported this month.

This is the first year the council has published estimates of contributions to both K-12 and higher-education institutions. It has tracked annual giving to higher education for more than 30 years.

Between June 1990 and July 1991, public elementary and secondary schools received $300 million in contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals, according to the report. Private schools received $1.5 billion during the same period, and public and private higher-education institutions together received $10.2 billion.

Despite increases in contributions in the 1980's, private gifts account for a tiny fraction of public schools' annual expenditures.

During the 1990-91 school year, donations represented less than 1 percent of the annual expenditures of public schools, compared with 8 percent for private schools. Public-school contributions, which currently average $7 per student, would have to be multiplied eight times to reach 1 percent of total per-student expenditures, the report states.

"I think everybody just needs to have a clear appreciation for the small but special role that private support can play in public elementary schools,'' said David R. Morgan, the council's director of research. "It can't really do anything to replace public funding for the ongoing operations of education, [but] its value is going to be funding research and testing out new programs to see whether they are effective and can then be applied on a broader basis using public funds.''

The council's findings differ somewhat from those issued recently by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsels, which estimated that private contributions to education in 1991 totaled about $13.3 billion.

The council pointed out in its report that the A.A.F.R.C.'s findings include gifts to libraries, education-related organizations, and research institutions, and that they are for the calendar year 1991, rather than the 1990-91 academic year.

Despite the recession, philanthropic contributions to education rose moderately in 1991, increasing 6.2 percent from the previous year.

Foundation contributions rose 7.3 percent last year, and contributions from individuals, which make up 89 percent of all philanthropic giving, rose 6.8 percent. Corporate contributions increased by 1.7 percent, the lowest increase since 1987.--M.S.

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